By Carol M. Creasey
Since Thursday of last week, the day when Queen Elizabeth passed away very suddenly, but peacefully, Formula One and indeed the rest of the world, especially Great Britain, has been in subdued mood.
Tributes were made by all the teams for her long life, dedication and hard work. Her last duty, just two days before she passed away was to meet her new prime minister, Liz Truss. This she did, and her death so soon afterwards was a shock to everyone. A minute’s silence was observed before Italian Grand Prix first free practice on Friday, and again before the race on Sunday.
Mercedes found themselves on the back foot again with over a second gap to the leaders in practice. In qualifying, Charles Leclerc of Ferrari just pipped Verstappen to pole, and Sainz was 3rd. Lewis was 5th and George was 6th, but as there were so many grid penalties for so many people, it really mixed the order up.
Charles started 1st, George 2nd, but Lewis, who had to take a new engine due to his collision with Alonso in Belgium, was starting from 19th on the grid, which with a slower car was a huge challenge. Verstappen started 7th, Sainz also came from the back of the grid, as did Perez. This elevated drivers such as Ricciardo and Norris higher up the grid at the start.
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At the beginning of the race, Lewis by his own admission took it slowly and carefully, not wishing to tangle with anyone. However, after about 10 laps he started to make steady progress. By the time he went in for new tyres, he was in 6th place. Leclerc was leading the race until his team decided to pit him for new tyres, by then Verstappen had made his way up to 2nd, which dropped Russell to 3rd. Verstappen then inherited the lead.
Lewis came back out in 12th place, and once again worked his way up the order. At one point, in one of his spectacular moves, he overtook 2 cars at once, and eventually he ended up in 5th place. Unfortunatley he had no chance to get any higher, as a few laps from the end a Safety Car was deployed, due to Ricciardo’s retirement. The drivers all scrambled to get new soft tyres, but were unable to make use of them, as due to very slow decision-making, the race finished behind the Safety Car.
It is interesting to note that many fans were complaining about this, and saying if only this had happened in Abu Dhabi, there would have been a completely different outcome to the world championship, as Sir Lewis would have won the title. The inconsistency with the rules in Formula One is very noticeable, and it has caused a lot of friction amongst the fans. Some are saying they cannot trust the FIA anymore, as they have lost their credibility.
It is obvious that with such a dominant car Verstappen would most probably have won anyway, however, when there is a last lap shootout, there is always a possibility of something unexpected happening.
Leclerc was 2nd, Russell 3rd, Sainz 4th, and Lewis 5th. To drag that car from 19th to 5th place was very creditable for Lewis. I really hope there are no more engine penalties, so he can at least have a chance to fight for a win this year. He did everything right today, and truly deserved his 5th place.
I want to give Nyck de Vries a mention, as he stepped into a Williams for the first time on Saturday, because Alex Albon was diagnosed with appendicitis, he made it into Q2 in qualifying, and also finished in the top 10 today. He also got a well-deserved Driver of the Day. Well done!
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